Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Inspiring Blog Award and Upcoming Blogfest

Although I hardly think of myself as inspiring, the lovely and talented J.C. Martin nominated me for the Inspiring Blog Award all the way back on June 11th.  Thank you, J.C.!  Please check out her novel, Oracle which comes out July 30, 2012.  I've read it and it is incredible!

So the rules are that I have to tell you 7 inter-related facts about myself and then nominate 7 people I find inspiring.  (It was the whole inter-related thing that tripped me up--that's why it took me so long to come up with this post!) Anyway, here goes!

1.  I love to drive.  Have always loved to drive.

2.  I do my best writing-related brainstorming while I'm driving.

3.  I once drove from Atlanta, Georgia to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania in a single day by myself.  I left at 5 a.m. and arrived at 8 p.m. (If I remember correctly).  I nearly got killed on a highway in South Carolina, drove through a torrential downpour in Virginia and got a flat tire at the border of Pennsylvania.  Good times.

4. I once listened to Dean Koontz's False Memory while driving from Pennsylvania to Kentucky in the middle of the night.  Travel tip:  do not listen to creepy books while driving through West Virginia at 3 a.m. during a lightning storm.  You won't sleep for a week.  By the way, only hours before that I had driven from Lake Placid, New York to Philadelphia, PA and hours after I arrived in Kentucky I drove to St. Louis, Missouri.

5.  I once drove from St. Louis, Missouri to Astoria, Oregon in just a few days (There was one leg of that trip where we drove straight through for 36 hours if I remember correctly) and saw a double rainbow in Western Nebraska with my dad.

6. I used to drive 40 miles each way to work and much of Finding Claire Fletcher was written in my head during those drives.

7.  I even bought one of those mini-cassette recorders for the car but never once used it!

Okay, so here are my 7 nominees in no particular order:

1. Nancy S. Thompson:  talented and tenacious!
2.  Carrie A. Butler:  blogging goddess and holy blog banners, batgirl!
3.  Jeff O at The Doubting Writer:  his writing is like rich, decadent chocolate!
4.  Joylene Butler:  overcoming incredible odds and staying committed to her writing!
5. Cassie Mae:  How does she get and keep all those followers?  By being herself, of course!
6.  Michael Infinito:  always knows exactly what to say!
7. L.G. Smith at Bards & Prophets:  she is consistently intriguing!

Finally, check out this blogfest that Falling For Fiction is hosting! It sounds like great fun.

On July 16th post the first sentence from each chapter.

On July 18th post the last sentence from each chapter.

Post as many as you like, your first 3 will be judged.  Get more details and sign up here.

Stay tuned for a guest post by R. Mac Wheeler!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cover Reveal!

Woot, woot!  I can now reveal the cover of my debut novel, Finding Claire Fletcher (how weird and cool is it that I can say that?  My "debut novel"?!)


I can't believe it!  It is so surreal that the tattered pieces of looseleaf I was scribbling furiously on all the way back in 2004 when I started writing FCF have now led to this!

I want to give a big shout-out and thank you to the cover artist, Chad at Sapphire Star Publishing and my publisher for bringing my vision to life.  From the time that I realized that Finding Claire Fletcher might actually be something I could show to other people, might be something I could approach agents and publishers with, I had this image of a woman in silouhette walking or running away down a lonely stretch of sidewalk--or in this case, an empty city park at night.  But I also wanted red in the cover somehow.  I wanted the cover to have a haunting, hazy kind of feel to it.  (Is it Claire?  Is it not Claire?)  It is amazing to me that SSP could take my "vision" and actually create it.  I'm extremely happy with what they've done.  Ecstatic actually.  I also love the ghostliness of the letters in the title.  Like Claire, they are there but they seem to be slipping away . . .

The hubs even likes this cover which is saying a lot since his standards in just about everything are way higher than the average person's and also since he is an artist himself! 

Anyway, the really cool thing about this is that it makes this whole publishing thing way more real for me.  Here is tangible, visual proof that a publisher believes in my book enough to want to put it out there for all the world to read!  I am simultaneously humbled and overjoyed!

Here is the synopsis to go with this fabulous cover:

Newly divorced and with his career in jeopardy, Detective Connor Parks takes solace in the arms of a beautiful woman he meets at a bar. The next morning, Claire Fletcher is gone, leaving nothing behind but an address and a decade-old mystery. The address leads to the Fletcher family home where Claire’s siblings inform Connor that their fifteen-year-old sister was abducted from a city street ten years ago and is presumed dead.

During those ten years, Claire endured the cruel torture and depravity of the man who abducted her. Paralyzed by fear and too ashamed to return to her family, Claire is resigned to her life as Lynn, the identity her abductor forced upon her. Every time she attempts escape or betrays him in the smallest way, someone dies. Even now, her clandestine run-in with Connor Parks may have put his life at risk, as well as the lives of her family.

Connor is convinced that not only is Claire Fletcher alive, but that she is also the woman he met at the bar. Driven to see her again, he begins his own investigation, off the clock and without the police department's consent. He is determined to find her and unravel the mystery of her abduction and odd reemergence. But finding Claire Fletcher proves more dangerous than he anticipates. In fact, it may be deadly.

The book will be available 12/6/12!

So tell me, have you ever bought a book based on its cover?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Shameless Promotion of My Fellow Writers: Carrie A. Butler

I am really excited to let you all know that my fellow writer, critique partner and friend, Carrie A. Butler of So You're A Writer has some big news!  Carrie just inked a deal with Sapphire Star Publishing for her first novel, Strength.  WOO HOO!!!!

I first read Strength last year when I was critting for Carrie and she sent it over to me in pieces.  So every morning I would literally jump out of bed and check my email to see if there were more pages.  It is truly an awesome book and I can't wait for everyone else to experience it!  I don't even typically read paranormal romance very often but this book had me in its clutches from page one.  I love it.  So much that I'm not above wearing a t-shirt with the male protag's likeness on it.  That's right, I heart Wallace and I'm not ashamed to say it!  :)

And if you've been following Carrie's blog for any length of time then you already know that she is an amazing, talented, kind and funny person.  I am very happy for her and very excited to welcome her into the SSP family (This means we're pub sisters!  Woot, woot!  Now two of my favorite people are my pub sisters, Nancy S. Thompson and Carrie! Yay!)

Anyway, get on over to Carrie's blog and check out her big announcement!  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ode to Walter

This was supposed to be posted yesterday but alas, the day got away from me.  Weird times.

Anyway, here it is:  As you know, I finally found a publisher and am nearing the completion of my lifelong goal of holding one of my own books in my hand.  I'm staring down a dream I've had since I was eleven years old.  And there is one person I had really hoped would be around to see this day who will not be--my grandfather, Walter Conlen.  He passed away 6/2/10 surrounded by his family, after a very full life.  The anniversary of his death was yesterday and it got me thinking about him. Although every time I think about my books, about getting published, he comes to mind. 

We never discussed my writing or the getting-published process other than in broad strokes.  He knew what I was trying to do, we didn't get into the nitty-gritty of it.  We didn't really need to--I always had his unwavering support.  What I really credit my grandfather with is inspiring my love of reading and maybe even my love for the genre I write in.  From what I remember, he was retired by the time I came along, or pretty close to being retired.  He still played a banjo in the Avalon String Band and yes, for a time, he was a Mummer.  The last time I really let loose and danced in public was because of him and that banjo:

He would play and I would dance on his banjo case!  Until I got too old and too heavy for it and then later, post-Seinfeld, realized that I dance like Elaine and it was probably best not to do it in public.

Except slow dancing, like so:

Anyway, one of the things I remember and cherish and admire most about my grandfather (who served in the military, fell in love at first sight with my grandmother and was devoted to her for over 60 years as well as being a very hard-working family man) was his love of reading.  When I was growing up, he would visit our neighborhood library every week (for some reason I feel like he went every Tuesday but I'm not entirely sure) and he would come home with a very large stack of hardbacks and he would read his behind off!  I never saw anyone who could mow through a stack of books like my Pop-pop.  In our working-class, mostly Irish Catholic neighborhood, there wasn't all that much value placed on being a reader but that didn't seem to bother him at all.  He read and read and read.  And he read crime thrillers, mysteries, suspense novels. 

Later, when I was a grown up and he had gone blind from Macular Degeneration, his children bought him audio books so he could continue filling up on novels.  He used to give them to me when he was done because I used to travel a lot.  What we found was that I had already read most of them!  We had exactly the same taste, were drawn to exactly the same books, enjoyed reading exactly the same things.  Yet, it was never something we talked about.  I just grew up watching him read, watching what he read.

Last year on the anniversary of his death, I had planned to go to the cemetary after work to visit him but instead, I left work and found this: 

Yes, that was my beloved car

My husband thinks Pop-pop was looking out for me.  Had I been walking to my car when this happened, I would have been killed by that giant tree.  But the mid-day errand I was supposed to run turned out to be unnecessary so I was not walking to my car at that particular time.  I didn't make it to the cemetary that day.  But my grandmother told me recently she is sure that Pop is looking down on me and that he knows that I've fulfilled my lifelong dream.  I just wish he was really here.  I think he would have enjoyed reading my books.

How about you guys?  Ever achieved something you'd been working toward for a long time but lost someone important along the way?